six months in

it’s a little over six months – almost seven, really, since my last day at work.

which is a funny thing to say because i assuredly still work. even if my boyfriend sees me still tucked into bed when he is venturing out into the cold in the morning (i’m sorry. i know that’s hard. forgive me.)

it’s hard from inside of self-employment, you guys. it is very hard. and that’s impossible to know before you head into it. you can read about it and you can be prepared for it but you cannot know it. and really, that’s alright. there is a part of dreaming where you should be dedicated to the good parts, the things that will sparkle and shine.

what it feels like from inside is this: am i doing enough for my clients? am i doing a good job, period? do i have too many clients? do i have enough clients? how do i decide what the right amount of clients is? i have other projects besides client work – when am i ever supposed to work on them? am i making enough money? what does enough money even mean? is there ever enough money? i’m not marketing myself. shit, i really should be marketing myself. i would love to do that training thing or go to that conference but its many thousands of dollars so lol. i finished a thing! i answered six emails! i get to pee and have lunch now! ugh, today is hard. am i allowed to go read a book now? i mean, that’s why i did this, right, so i’d be able to do whatever i wanted whenever i wanted? you mean that’s not how it works? i was lied to! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN, QUARTERLY TAXES?!? *gets email* oh, my client is thrilled with my work, i’m gonna go glow forever now.

so, that’s a lot. it is constant cacophony. i have no idea if it will be right for me forever – and i also imagine the shape of what i do┬áis going to change over time – but i am enjoying the ride while i’m on it, right now.

here’s the good stuff. i was able to go see dear friends for two weeks, because i could take my work with me. i was able to go see a friend who has a six month old baby for a full day on a thursday. i do not really get up before 8 – yes i have seen all of the articles about the most productive people in the world getting up at ungodly times and i am just not interested. i have incredible freedom over my time and energy and i value that in a way that i don’t know how to describe in words.

the other good stuff is that business is really good and i am doing fine. i have not had to dig into my savings to support myself and keep up my share of my household monthly expenses. although the bouncer has been two hundred percent supportive and when we talked about all of this and potential financial instability, he offered to shore me up, i haven’t had to take advantage of that kindness and i am extraordinarily proud of that. (he did buy me a new computer, which was insanely generous). my inbox is totally full of work right now, which is sometimes intimidating but mostly amazing. i’ve been approached about big, exciting projects that scare the hell out of me, which makes me know that i should take them on.

the secret, the whole time, was that i didn’t quite believe that i could do this. i saved money as a backup plan, enough to support myself for a skint 9 months, and a solid part of me felt i would just run through it and then have to go get another job. and that might happen, someday, i know, but it hasn’t happened yet and i am mystified and thrilled and truly, for real proud of myself.

i’m also learning about a whole new world of self-care habits, and one of them is getting out of the house every day. i have what amounts to a two room apartment, with a huge bedroom and a living room/kitchen combo. the desk is in the bedroom (there is no room for it anywhere else), and your office being the same as your bedroom is not ideal, to say the least. fortunately, i live in Brooklyn where there’s no shortage of trendy coffeeshops to go and spend a few dollars on a chai and a pastry or sandwich and buckle down with some wifi.

i worked at home this morning and then, when i got hungry for lunch, i packed up and came out. I had a BLT with avocado on a croissant and when i looked around at my little table, at my three notebooks all filled with the work i have to do (and one just for my words, in case i couldn’t plug my computer in – the cover of it is the photo for this post), i was struck, as i am sometimes, with the idea that i am doing it. it is the middle of the afternoon and i’ve chosen where i want to be and what i want to be doing and i am doing this thing. i am really, actually, living this life and doing this thing and i’m grateful for every person and thing and experience that helped me get here and i am proud as hell.

the thing i can finally talk about

or, how i’ve learned to cope with saying “i’m leaving my full time job and focusing all of my time and energy on my business.”

MY. BUSINESS. those are actual words i say and they MEAN SOMETHING. whuuuuuuuuuut.

so, here’s a thing. i’m leaving my full time job, one that i’ve enjoyed a solid 90% of the time, and striking out on my own. i’m growing my own small business, starglass media, specializing in website builds, social media strategy and management, and email marketing for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits. yes. that is the thing i’m doing.

you wouldn’t think a sentence carries so much weight but whoa, you’re wrong. it’s so many things. let’s start with some history.

a year and a half ago, maybe longer, i got an itch. i thought that maybe it was time for a change. i looked around at other positions and some of them seemed awesome, but i couldn’t get excited about them. the thought of trudging into an office on someone else’s time for the rest of forever felt stifling, even for a job i might love doing.

and i remembered of all of the inspiring people i know who have made a self-employed life work for them, and i thought of how i had always felt leagues behind them, different from them, and i thought about why. was i really so different? (no) did my skills translate to freelance and consulting work? (yes) what was stopping me? (fear)

i was fortunate enough to begin these conversations with two amazing entrepreneurial friends, a married couple for whom I’d sign on to be a sister wife if we were all into that. they were my own incubator, my encouragers, my first clients, and my teachers and mentors. last year, i took on 5 clients and made an extra $5k, working on top of my full time job – one month, it was two separate projects and 25 hours, including a week’s vacation with no work. it was exhausting, and though i originally envisioned doing it for at least a year, i burnt out quickly. some will tell you you have to run yourself until midnight every day and all weekend and i’ll be totally real; i could not do that without completely mentally cracking. so i took a break, in the fall of 2013, with an intention to re-evaluate in the new year.

sure enough, early on in 2014, the itch came back and i decided it had to be time. i’d just gotten myself out of debt, i was in a great position to save, and i finally felt like I had to try. like the risk of going splat was worth jumping off the cliff. i put my feelers out for clients again, i started swimming in new opportunities (not all of which were a good fit. learning to have uncomfortable conversations, check!), i fired myself back up and got back in the game. i slowly told the people who mattered most and have always been trusted advisors to me. i drank up their encouragement, and it sustained me. i set a date. i took care of medical concerns while i still have health insurance. i socked away money like it was penicillin before the apocalypse.

and here i am, three-ish months after that decision (it feels longer). i’ve told my co-workers and turned in a resignation letter and set an end date (july 31st). i sat down with the HR department and tied up my loose ends.

this is happening, this is real. i waver every day between thinking i’m going to be living in a cardboard box by the end of the year and imagining my jetsetter, world traveler life, working in quaint coffee shops and by hotel pools. i know i’ll probably land somewhere in the middle of that. i’m happy that i can finally share this – it’s been the most inspiring thing, creatively, that i’ve encountered in a very long time. i hope with all of me that it stays that way, and that you stick around for the rest of the ride.

for my next trick.

i consider my life to be fairly small, and i don’t consider this a bad thing. it’s mine – and i mean, not to get too woo-woo on you but we are all really only tiny little specks in the vastness of the planet, let alone the universe, and i try to stay conscious that my own existence is nearly nothing, even if it feels all consuming to me. but sometimes i have big revelations that overturn my brain and really make me gasp for a second, and obviously my first instinct is to write about them on the internet, because i’ve been doing that for twelve years.

you may or may not know that i just finished my first month of doing some freelance work on top of my day job. you can learn more about that over at my professional site, complete with it’s own blog. and if you’re so inclined, you can check out and like/follow the associated facebook page and twitter account and you’ll make my little heart happy. in any case, i’ve finished this up and while i am both doing this work and putting energy into growing my business i have had a truckload of thoughts.

  • putting yourself out there is really fucking hard: no, it’s not professional to drop the f-bomb on the internet but i don’t particularly care because this situation warrants it. i have been terrified every step of the way that the lot of you are out there laughing to yourself that i’m even trying to do this. of course i’ve received nothing but great and helpful feedback and support from my people, but still. still. every little drop of kindness, from facebook comments to an email from my boss at my old job praising my efforts to my boyfriend’s unexpected compliments on a client letter, every bit is appreciated and i squeeze it until it’s wrung dry. shit is terrifying, yo.
  • having a part time job and a full time job is stressy: and i expect to do it for over a year to come, so let’s hope my fragile little neurons survive, huh?
  • little building blocks every day lead to big things: NONE OF THIS HAPPENS OVERNIGHT. none of it happens in a day, or a week, or a month, or even a year. i am the most impatient, foot stamping, give-it-to-me now kind of person and i am learning so much about how i cannot be that way. there are so many tiny tasks to be done to build up to the bigger picture. i’ve tried really hard to adapt the advice of doing at least one small thing every day to work on this, even if it’s as tiny as sending an email or signing up for a networking group. because when these tiny actions pile up they become accomplished goals. and if something is scary, i breathe deeply and try to headbutt it like the badass ram that i am. spoiler: it is all scary.
  • organization and brain dumps are very important: guys, there is a lot of stuff happening. during the month of march i did my first month of work for a client on retainer, i had my regular full time gig to attend to, i had scintilla to run, and i had you know, life and feeding myself and bathing. i keep a wide variety of to do lists and task managers on hand and i’m still finding the perfect balance for me, though i am loving trello for project management and for personal to-do items. relatedly, i love freshbooks for time tracking and billing.
  • find support and hold onto it for dear life: i am so fortunate because i have a coworker, friend, and mentor who is also embarking on this journey, and we have been able to serve as resources for each other. i have had SO MANY questions and because he’s a little bit further along in the process, he’s been infinitely helpful and reassuring. because things like quarterly taxes are made to destroy your sanity, and contracts can be super confusing, and marketing oneself sometimes looks like a big wide field of landmines, and these are all thing i have to worry about now.
  • it is really important to have an eye on the prize, and have the other one on the path in front of you: you lose motivation quick if you don’t realize the big reasons why you’re doing this. i eventually want to own my own time and have more flexibility with it, and i want the challenge and excitement of working on new projects on a consistent basis. i have done extensive research into the downsides (lack of health insurance, no paid vacations, pressure to work always, never seeing the outside world, I KNOW), and i’ve decided to try it anyway. in the same vein, it’s important to have the Big Goal broken down into steps that have associated timelines. i have measurable goals that i’ve calendarized to make sure i’m making progress towards the end goal (or, i mean, sort of. i have them in my head. next to do item: put them on an actual thing, digital or analog).

so this is my latest adventure and i am positive i will continue to have Many Thoughts and Feelings about it, and as always, i adore you all for listening. do you have any tips or tricks for me? or any business you want to refer my way *wink, nudge*?